Reputation is one of the most important elements of business success and much of a company’s reputation can be attributed to its figurehead – often the CEO or Managing Director.
A CEO exerts an enormous amount of influence over any enterprise they control, so if their reputation is tarnished then it’s almost inevitable that the company itself will suffer. By the same token, a strong, consistent approach from the CEO or Director can have a positive effect on a company.
According to Weber Shandwick, “CEO reputation is a fundamental driver of corporate reputation, and is unwavering in its contribution to market value… nearly half of a company’s value is attributable to its CEO.”
Half of the participants (50%) in Weber Shandwick’s study anticipate that CEO reputation will be even more important in five years’ time. Weber Shandwick also found that the market value of a company is also directly affected by a CEO’s reputation, demonstrating the importance of clear leadership.
A strong CEO influence online can strengthen the media’s attention on their company, as well as minimise the risk of a reputation crisis. Employees and clients can also be attracted from a well-renowned CEO or Director and a strong reputation online does not necessarily involve enhancing egos or celebrity; humility can go a long way.
Having a strong reputation
Considering how vital a company’s CEO is to their public image, we look at the key factors of CEO reputation management.
- Being honest, transparent and ethical: A strong reputation for an individual comes from having a clear message, involving a compelling story from their past. This must, of course, be linked intuitively to the organisation, to avoid the idea that they are distant or out-of-touch. Trust and reputation go hand-in-hand.
- Consistency: It’s no use having an online presence which sounds great and answers all of the questions, but doesn’t live up to their personality in real-life. Consistency is key, so the CEO’s personality, traits and intentions should be outlined throughout their online assets in order for them to be credible.
- Being a good external communicator: As the face of the company, a CEO must be able to talk confidently and respectfully to the press and potential consumers. Showing leadership and a knowledge of the market are important.
- A customer focus: Above all, CEOs should be focused on delivering a good customer experience and retaining and growing customers, consumers like to know that they’re at the heart of a company’s focus.
- Having a clear, ambitious focus: If the company looks ambitious, with a clear company message and direction, then consumers will buy into it. That can only enhance the reputation of the CEO and the company in the long-term.
- Internally inspiring, motivating and communicating: Often, a good reputation starts internally, so a business’ staff are the biggest brand advocates. Once staff are on board, the CEO’s reputation will spread to external sectors.
In order to maintain a strong CEO reputation, their online presence must stay true to the CEO and also match the perceptions of the audiences. It should define what the company is against, as well as what it’s for, and must be brought to life in how the CEO acts.
That will strengthen the company’s reputation as a whole, giving it a stronger perception to a wider audience. Not only does it protect a company when things go wrong, but it also increases positive perceptions of the brand in the public eye.